Obama to Visit Israel and West Bank Next Week

Sen. Barack Obama is headed to Israel and the West Bank next week:

U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama will visit Israel and the occupied West Bank next week, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Monday. Obama will be in Israel on July 22 and 23 and hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli official said.

Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama would also meet President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah next Wednesday.


Last month, Obama spoke to AIPAC and said Jerusalem should remain undivided.

in comments that dismayed Palestinian leaders, he said in the address that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided".

Yesterday, he backtracked and said he used poor phrasing when making that statement to AIPAC:

"You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech, and we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given," Obama said during an interview on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria - GPS."

... "The point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent," Obama said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria -- GPS" programme.

The Palestinians are glad Obama is visiting the West Bank.

Erekat said the Palestinians "welcome this meeting," and added that if he is elected US president, the Palestinians hope "he will stay the course between Israel and the Palestinians in reaching peace."

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    my concern here (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ccpup on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:03:49 PM EST
    is that Obama, in trying to look like a Leader, will only end up looking out-of-place and foolish in the company of those who ARE, already -- whether one agrees with them or not --, Leaders.

    Hopefully he'll make any speeches he gives short and sweet and use the opportunity to learn from these discussions and not just pontificate like some pseudo-JFK wannabe.

    This is so unfair (none / 0) (#52)
    by Need2Win on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:43:24 AM EST
    The present president of Russia is 42! Prior to him was Putin. He was 48 years old when he assumed power. He ruled for 8 years. Please give us a break.

    isn't that cute! (none / 0) (#56)
    by ccpup on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:12:45 AM EST
    you think the current President of Russia is actually the President!  

    Most people in Russia understand and accept that Putin put in place -- because, yes, he does have the power to do that -- the man who would easily controlled and who would give a young, fresh face to Russia.

    But he has absolutely no power, this new President.  It's still in the hands of Putin and the Russian Mafia as it's always been.

    Even with having no power, though, the new President still had a longer resume and more experience than Obama before being The Chosen One.


    oh, and Putin? (none / 0) (#57)
    by ccpup on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:14:18 AM EST
    He was head of the KGB before being President of Russia.

    Much stronger on the resume than being a State Senator from Illinois, you know?


    Palestinians vs Israelis (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Saul on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:04:07 PM EST
    groups in the U.S. are no where  equal to the power of AIPAC. He will pander the Jewish vote.  Before running for President he was a major defender of the Palestinians cause in Illinois.  But of course they became expendable.

    I think Obama has learned to say Shalom aleichem

    Good god (lower case g)! (none / 0) (#11)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:06:56 PM EST
    It's not enough that Obama has to fight the perception that he's a Muslim infiltrator -- now we're trying to tar him as a Jew?  Oy vey!

    He IS a man in search of a church (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:08:12 PM EST

    Yes, I'm sure Jewish voters (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:34:05 PM EST
    will be thrilled by Obama's religious outreach. After all, he took such care to include them in his recent meeting with religious leaders!

    Oh, wait....


    If only people were paying more (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:36:22 PM EST
    attention, we wouldn't be having this discussion about this particular person.

    Do we know (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:10:10 PM EST
    what Obama thinks about the Israeli plans to possibly attack Iran, with Bush's "amber light" approval?

    That story does have some good news: Bush has decided not to attack Iran. I hope it's true.

    Good idea to go Middle East (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by CaptainAmerica08 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:23:15 PM EST
    the more information he can get and the more experience he can gain (because he needs it badly) the better for all of us.

    Yes (none / 0) (#25)
    by nell on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:35:57 PM EST
    he needs the experience.

    I was at a family event this weekend and a bunch of my Canadian relatives were asking me what I thought about the Presidential election. I said that I couldn't get excited about either candidate, and that while I could never vote for McCain, I was waiting for Obama to earn my vote. They were perplexed, they said they thought everyone loved Obama and wondered what my concerns were.

    When I explained his lack of experience and noted (among many other things) that he had not traveled to Europe or anywhere else extensively and that he had not held a single hearing of his foreign relations subcommittee, their faces were just shocked. They said they had no idea and that they didn't understand how the US nominated someone who had so little experience, especially so little experience traveling abroad...the look on their faces as I laid out the facts was just one of sheer confusion and wonderment that such a candidate could get nominated...


    Well, he hasn't been nominated yet. That will (none / 0) (#30)
    by Angel on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:41:45 PM EST
    be in August at the convention (maybe, still time for a huge blunder).  But back to reality:  it wasn't a nomination; it was a coronation by the DNC.

    Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by MsExPat on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:38:07 PM EST
    about a politician who doesn't even officially have the Democratic nomination yet going swanning around to the most sensitive regions in the globe, meeting with world leaders as if he were already President?

    While the stated reason for these travels is fact-finding and information gathering, of course the real reason is to show the folks at home footage of Obama meeting with world leaders, waving to cheering Berlin crowds, etc.

    Fair enough, and there is a certain comfort in knowing that he's getting some "seasoning", as one poster mentioned above. Still, turning Europe and the Middle East into a pretty stage set for an American presidential campaign seems somehow wrong.

    And, also, a typically American way of looking at the rest of the world--it's not about YOU...it's about US.

    No, you're not alone. My first thought was that (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Angel on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:43:22 PM EST
    he doesn't have the nomination yet and he's already acting like this is his first foreign policy mission.  This and wanting to speak in front of the Brandenburg gate.  Sheesh.

    Obama's moment in Israel/Brandenburg Gate (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by elizbethrc on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:23:18 PM EST
    It almost seems as though Obama has Hollywood 'stagers' to dress up every venue in typical over the top Tinseltown style.  He doesn't seem to get it that the majority of mature American voters have more depth than to buy into those cheap, tawdy, tasteless setups.
    It only diminishes him further in their eyes.  Someone once said something to me which is appropriate: He is a person who is 6 feet tall, but a quarter of a millimeter deep.  
    This lazy 'politician' has never done the hard work to get anything accomplished, but takes the credit for the work of others. What a phony!

    I agree (none / 0) (#34)
    by americanincanada on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:03:25 PM EST
    And I will add that it worries and scares me a little.

    Scares me a little too... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Grace on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:26:01 PM EST
    It seems like the plot of a movie:  Presidential candidate sets off an international incident when he accidentally says the wrong things.  

    Hmmm.  That could be a comedy or a drama.  


    What about McCain (none / 0) (#53)
    by Need2Win on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:44:44 AM EST
    He just came back from South America. He trounced off to Europe as soon as he got the nomination. What about that.

    Sigh (5.00 / 4) (#28)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:40:30 PM EST
    "Undivided Jerusalem" is like "mental distress" in the abortion context.  Nobody just accidentally lets those words escape their lips without understanding what they're saying.

    Pandering is pandering, but saying it was just a fortuitous choice of words is flat-out lying.

    Here is, by the way, a must-read on the subject of an undivided Jerusalem.

    A perfect analogy... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by tree on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:08:14 PM EST
    "Undivided Jerusalem" is like "mental distress" in the abortion context.  Nobody just accidentally lets those words escape their lips without understanding what they're saying

    And thanks for the great link. (none / 0) (#37)
    by tree on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:14:11 PM EST
    Anyone wanting a little more history on Israeli rule in Jerusalem could do well to read "Separate and Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem" written by Amir Cheshin, the former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. It was written in 1999, but its a great primer on the inequities in Jerusalem that flowed from Israeli control of the city. Things have only gotten worse since 1999.

    Is anyone fooled by this (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by g8grl on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:50:59 PM EST
    Seems to me to point out just how little experience Obama has that a last minute trip to the Middle East is supposed to bolster his Foreign Policy bona fides.  At this point why don't they say he's read four or five books on the subject so he's up to speed.  The whole point on this is that he was never really interested in this until he started running for President and this is the first chance he's had to fit in a trip between his campaigning.  It's absolutely horrible how unqualified he is.  He is constantly saying things that need to be explained or taken back because he doesn't have any historical context.  I would love to vote for a Democrat but I'm not sure this one would be good for the country.  

    This is stunning: (4.75 / 4) (#4)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:57:49 AM EST
    You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech, and we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given,"

    It is stunning!!!! But, it will (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by zfran on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:03:36 PM EST
    be parsed in some manner not to particularly mean anything significant. "Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words."

    The electorate should be sick of dog (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:32:24 PM EST
    and pony shows too.

    It's been a dog and pony show for... (none / 0) (#51)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:48:12 PM EST
    40 years...if we ain't sick of it by now we'll never be.

    Never, ever does (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by mikeyleigh on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:08:20 PM EST
    it seem is Obama responsible for what comes out of his mouth.  

    The phrase on Juerusalem in his (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by tree on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:21:26 PM EST
    speech to AIPAC was in fact a stunningly ignorant comment. The official US position has been set for decades that the status of Jerusalem is to be settled by negotiation, not declared by fiat to be under the sole control of Israel.(Which is its de facto condition now, to the detriment of its Palestinian citizens.)

    I found it amazing that he could make such a stupid statement, and it is only because of the general public's ignorance of Israeli/Palestinian affairs that it did not create more of a stir before he backtracked and corrected himself to align with the US position. It really spoke of his utter lack of understanding of (or perhaps his lack of true interest in) the region. A quick trip isn't going to help, IMO.

     If he's elected we can only help that he'll have good advisers. He's personally quite tone deaf on international matters from everything I've seen him say, and seems to be overly sensitive to perceived or imagined slights or attacks. Imagine him brushing off his shoulders after meeting with foreign leaders, or illustrating  how they "twisted the knife" when he gets bested in negotiations. Not good.


    Meant to say "we can only hope" (none / 0) (#22)
    by tree on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:23:24 PM EST
    not "help"

    I said this in November.1999 (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:41:19 PM EST
    If he's elected we can only hope that he'll have good advisers. He's personally quite tone deaf on international matters from everything
    During the Gore/Bush court battle in which Bush was awarded the Presidency, I said the same thing. In fact I added that as long as the country was in good shape, I hoped that he just wouldn't touch any buttons and also keep his promise to stay out of the international arena. Woe de me. GW hit every one of them. This time I think it will take 5 Presidents at once handling one problem at a time to get things back to 2000. The mistakes or mis-spoke are very scary. And I think one trip is not going to make too much of a dent on the foreign stage.

    A good move by Obama. . . (4.50 / 2) (#2)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:43:44 AM EST
    and a bit gutsy to meet with the Palestinians during the campaign -- wait for the McCain press release on that.

    It is a good move, and particularly (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:58:55 AM EST
    gutsy given Obama's prior support for Palestinian causes and his efforts lately to distance himself from that part of his past.  

    Well, you know. .. (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:00:05 PM EST
    nobody has done more for both the Israelis and the Palestinians than Obama.

    Hell... (none / 0) (#21)
    by ctrenta on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:23:16 PM EST

    ... wait for AIPAC to respond to that! I'd worry about there response more compared to McCain's!

    Let's see if he will pull a Detroit... (4.50 / 2) (#15)
    by citizen53 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:15:40 PM EST
    and tell the people he sees what they don't want to hear.

    He is the choice at this point, and I want him to succeed, but I just wish he would be real and stop pretending that he is offering something new and different because it is deceptive and will come back to haunt him.

    This should be interesting....more like he (4.20 / 5) (#3)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:46:16 AM EST
    is being forced into it.  obama is not a leader, but he can see the writing on the wall, i.e. his chances in the GE.

    Not that excited about him going to Middle East (4.00 / 1) (#7)
    by stefystef on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:00:44 PM EST
    I think it's a good politician move, but we really didn't think Obama wouldn't go to the Middle East.  I would be surprised if Obama went to Iran or North Korea.  Now that's news.

    No mention of a Republican chaperone (4.00 / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:17:27 PM EST

    Is he really flying solo on this one?

    Is he dropping Hagel off (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:19:42 PM EST
    in Iraq? That wouldn't be very nice. ;-)

    Lieberman? (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:18:02 PM EST
    Hagel and Jack Reed (none / 0) (#32)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:46:33 PM EST
    Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) this afternoon announced their plans to join Obama on an official congressional delegation to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    They should take a big roll of (none / 0) (#42)
    by Grace on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:23:17 PM EST
    duct tape with them.  Then when they get to Israel and the West Bank, they can put a piece over Obama's mouth and claim they have taken him hostage (Reed & Hagel) thereby denying Obama the opportunity to stick his foot in his mouth.  

    Huh? I'm confused. Sen. Obama says: (none / 0) (#36)
    by mrjerbub on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:13:42 PM EST
    "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel.." Here all this time I thought Tel Aviv was the capitol. He talks like a fundie and that scares me.

    Hm (none / 0) (#39)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:31:58 PM EST
    Well, Israel certainly considers Jersualem to be the capital.  I'm not sure if I can think of another country offhand that isn't allowed to determine its own capital.

    Oh. I get it. ~wink wink~ (none / 0) (#40)
    by mrjerbub on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 02:05:29 PM EST
    Here's the address:

    U.S. Embassy, Israel
    71 Hayarkon Street
    Tel Aviv

    Silly me.


    Oh (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 02:45:51 PM EST
    So the United States determines where Israel's capital is!  How interesting.

    For that matter, I can only assume you are unaware that as a matter of federal law, the United States is obligated to move its embassy to Jerusalem as soon as the President determines the security situation makes it feasible.


    Actually, The UN did. (1.00 / 1) (#44)
    by mrjerbub on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:11:56 PM EST
    I surrender. I know better than to start an argument with AIPAC.

    Er (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:24:08 PM EST
    AIPAC has nothing to do with determining where Israel's capital is.  Israel makes that determination, just like every other sovereign nation on the planet.

    If you're under the belief that the only people who regard Jerusalem as Israel's capital are crazed neocons, you couldn't be more mistaken.


    Thank you for (none / 0) (#48)
    by mrjerbub on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:20:27 PM EST
    the education. I will be forever in your debt.

    Jerusalem is the capitol. . . (none / 0) (#46)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:35:16 PM EST
    and seat of government of Israel.  The United Nations and most member nations do not recognize that status as a form of punishment for Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem in '67.

    The UN position is that it involves a violation (none / 0) (#47)
    by tree on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:15:06 PM EST
    of international law. When Israel annexed East Jerusalem and a big swath of the West Bank surrounding it, it violated international law, including the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the taking of territory by force of war. Many Palestinians were expelled from the area in 1967.

    Those Palestinian residents of the city who remained are given residency rights to Jerusalem but no citizenship rights in Israel, and Israel makes it extremely easy to deny those residency rights. A  Palestinian woman who marries a Palestinian living elsewhere in the West Bank can be denied residency rights. A student going to school for several years outside of Israel can be denied residency rights. Etc, etc.

     Israel also discriminates against the Palestinian residents there, by refusing to issue building permits for Palestinians and demolishing many house built or added onto by Palestinians. Israeli Jews who build without permits have never had any building torn down.  East Jerusalem Palestinian  neighborhoods are allowed to deteriorate while Israeli Jewish ones are given much government assistance.

    Here's another good article about ICAHD(Israeli Committee Against House Demolition) and East Jerusalem.

    As another point of fact, the place set aside for the US Embassy in Israel has been determined to have belonged to a Palestinian before Israel expropriated the property from its absentee owner, absentee because he was not allowed to return to his property by Israel. There are lots of Catch-22's set up for Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, intended to keep Israel's Jewish population up and its Palestinian population down , both in numbers and in living conditions.

     The US government position has always been that the status of Jerusalem is to be determined by final negotiations, but, over the last ten years or so, Congress, in response to entreaties from AIPAC and others, has pushed for US recognition of Israel immediately. In all cases the Executive branch has balked at such a directive, using various language to negate the effect of the Congressional resolutions.    


    Thank you all very much. (none / 0) (#49)
    by mrjerbub on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:23:37 PM EST
    Anyone know how to put the lid back on this can of worms? "Help me Mr. Wizard".

    A good trip (none / 0) (#50)
    by koshembos on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:43:40 PM EST
    The trip to Israel and Palestine is a smart move by Obama. He better hear directly from the two sides instead of a 3rd party such as AIPAC. Barak has already promised Bill Clinton that Jerusalem will be the capital of both nations. You can call it divided or undivided, but it is a major issue the two sides actually already agreed on it. AIPAC may not like it; so what, they don't live in the Middle East.

    Obama, if elected, shouldn't be partial or neutral, he should be pro-peace. He should promise as much support as possible for peace whose parameter where flashed out with the help of Bill Clinton in 2000.

    Experience (none / 0) (#54)
    by Need2Win on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:48:25 AM EST
    What is experience? What exactly qualifies one to be President.
    What GPA or Sats do you need. What is the threshold.
    It's pretty oxymoron when they say well we can't hire you. Well why not? Cause you don't have experience!

    The president of Russia is 42. 42 yet he manages well.

    Palestine (none / 0) (#55)
    by Need2Win on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:49:39 AM EST
    Good on Obama for going to Palestine. It shows respect.
    When did a American leader last set foot in Palestine.
    Obama should be applauded.